Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Media Take: The Easter Show

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    But look, they've found the tomb of Jesus. With his wife and child - oops.

    (Which of course would mean that if he had offspring, there would be a succession. And it would obviously run through the Merovingian dynasty and the Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion, up to the current incumbent, Amanda F Palmer).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Amanda Wreckonwith,

    most scholars believe he existed

    So pleased that you didn't capitalise the 'h'. One of the joys of not residing in the USA...

    Since Sep 2012 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    something that set [christianity] apart from being just another Jewish sect

    Which could be simply that the Romans adopted it at the right time and enforced it on their empire.

    A key distinguishing factor of christianity over previous religions is the way it justified a state monopoly of violence in an eternal context. Prior to adopting christianity, if someone opposed the Roman state, then if they failed, they’d die an unpleasant death. If they succeeded, however, they’d achieve local or global power, at least until the next guy came along.

    Christianity introduced two interlinked concepts – eternal damnation and deference to the state, such that opposition to the established order became not just temporally dangerous, but also sinful. Ideal for a state wanting to bolster its power, and the foundation of feudalism as the dominant system of European governance.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Perrott, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    hell yeah, so exceptional and so obvious that not one scrap of contemporary evidence for him exists despite thousands of people spending nigh on 1000 years desperately digging through everything and anything for any hint, intimation, or autographed scripture. comparisons to Alex are plain silly.
    For mine, jesus remains a composite figure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    butterfly collectors of a particular persuasion have yet to massacre entire populations over matters pertaining to the subtlety of interpreting various Lepidoptera genera. And that is the key problem with theology – it is great intellectual fun and games until someone takes it seriously

    Ahh to live in the ancient world. What I can infer and reason is that iterations of our Government and its apparatus have killed more New Zealanders than all the other religions combined here; be that through executions, the maori wars, at Parihaka etc. With further reasoning and inference, I, and presumably anyone who's been the recipient of one of those food parcels, a bed for the night or cheap second hand goods from their stores could quite easily come to the conclusion that only by removing these institutions and the tangible good they are doing in our society will we be able to fully appreciate just how short of the mark our state welfare system fails, and just how much of a contribution these organisations make, far beyond and often despite their prolytising.

    If the banking industry got as much shit as organised religion we'd be getting somewhere. That is, in this day and age.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Hi Russell, I missed the show, what time and day is the repeat showing? And for that matter when are the initial broadcasts? I don't own a Listener or whatever it is people use to keep tabs. I'd watch it online but Zenbu.net.nz charges $1 per 20MB.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Alan Perrott,

    comparisons to Alex are plain silly.

    Pretty much. One was extremely famous in his own time, more so than probably any other human had ever been, operating out of the heart of the most prolific and powerful culture of the region. The other was obscure, from a remote town, affecting a small number of people. There's probably something like 20,000 times more evidence about Alexander than Jesus. We can pretty much trace his entire life's path. Jesus we can fix at two points - he was very likely baptized by John the Baptist and crucified by Pontius Pilate, and everything before and between is hazy clouds of possibility and supposition. For Alexander we have pretty close dates for most of the major events of his life. He was a famous man even before he was the "Great", the prince of a powerful king, well known to the aristocracy of the region, who formed the bulk of the literate people of the time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to mark taslov,

    But the ideology that justified colonial atrocities *was* christianity. They believed that "heathen" people had to be "converted" and if that involved genocide, then at least their souls would be saved.

    Sure, many christians, possibly a majority, have abjured those ideas over the last 100 years - but for the prior 2000, it was a clear tenet of nearly all forms of that religion.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    But the ideology that justified colonial atrocities *was* christianity.

    The ideology that justified colonial atrocities was colonialism/ imperialism. Te Kooti, like many others, was christian. Christianity never had a monopoly on persecution and tyranny:

    In 845, at the height of the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution, Emperor Wuzong decreed that Buddhism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism be banned, and their very considerable assets forfeited to the state.

    ...

    The Ming dynasty decreed that Manichaeism and Christianity were illegal and heterodox, to be wiped out from China, while Islam and Judaism were legal and fit Confucian ideology.[15] Buddhist Sects like the White Lotus were also banned by the Ming.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    To my satisfaction at least, the most obvious explanation is the first Christians had a leader in every way even more exceptional in his power to influence men than, say, Alexander the Great was in his own time.

    LOL. Yeah, right.

    either he or his immediate apostles made a revolutionary intellectual breakthrough akin to the invention of farming

    Wow, full of hyperbole much? Comparing technological changes that led to hundred-fold increases in the potential human population around the entire globe to yet-another-monotheistic-religion that eventually took over a collapsing empire without really changing a damned thing about the way they went about business.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to mark taslov,

    I don't see how the fact that all imperialist states used religion (or communism, or nowadays, anti-religion) as a justification negates the fact that Britain, specifically, used it in the 19th century to justify settling New Zealand.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    The Manson family used The Beatles music as justification for killings. I’d probably go with the BeeGees, but at the end of the day, the acts are far in excess of the parameters of‘ideology’. There’s nothing inherently Christian (Gospel) about the acts. To say they *used* religion, implying that statements were issued citing the ideology as justification, doesn't necessarily mean that the wider populace at the time bought these justifications or even that they are objectively credible to the reasoning mind.

    If the head of Apple Corps, Neil Aspinall, had used The Beatles music as justification for a rampage, no jury would exonerate him on this count and no prosecution would be brought against McCartney and Starkey Jr, or Beatlemania as a whole. It's a fruitless expedition.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to mark taslov,

    If the Manson Family had formed a close bond with the Beatles fan-club and worked with it to dominate many nations for the succeeding 1800 years (whilst suppressing heretical views on such things as the merits of the White Album), that might be a reasonable analogy.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    If the colonisation of New Zealand had involved a unified strategy between Church, State and private entererprise then my analogy might be unreasonable:

    The company became notable for elaborate and grandiose advertising and for its vigorous attacks on those it perceived as its opponents – the British Colonial Office, successive governors of New Zealand, prominent missionary the Rev. Henry Williams and the Church Missionary Society in New Zealand and London.

    Had the New Zealand Company formed close bonds with the Church Missionary Society, then my analogy might have been entirely unreasonable.

    Rich, you seem to be simultaneously arguing a few points, namely that the church was used to justify atrocities over 2000 years, this I don’t dispute. Secondly you did seem at one point to be pursuing an argument whereby *the* sole ideology justifying colonial atrocities was Christianity. Thirdly, as far as I can see you are stating that the closer one’s bonds with the ideology being used to justify atrocity, the more culpable the collective – encompassing countless distinct branches of that ideology – are.

    Placing a bookend in history, my basic point was that various iterations of the Government in New Zealand (regardless of its justifications) have perpetuated far worse atrocities than any organised religion has done *here*, and for that matter the various churches do quite a bit of good around the community, currently. My overriding feeling is that if we’re going to argue culpability and point fingers we might as well use all our fingers, rather than just the one, that is if we must point fingers at the past - as opposed to using that energy to looking more closely at the contemporary situation.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Christian revolution

    Whoa up there big fella! there never was any Christian revolution.
    The residents of Galilee were mainly of the Jewish persuasion and didnt want to submit to Roman rule.They'd had enough of that from the Persians.

    [On a side note It was never their land in perpetuity the ancestors of the then residents had taken it by brutal and very violent means. And somewhat shamelessly, recorded their conquest in what became the old testament].

    But they were eventually forced into accepting it violently by a military commander going by the name of Vespasian, circa 70 AD. He later became a ruler(emperor) of the Roman Empire.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Perrott, in reply to andin,

    tbh, and I suspect I'm going to regret this, I'm still trying to figure this one out ''Imagining the classical mind is so hard precisely because it was a pre-Christian one.''

    were those pre-christians a bit savagey and dim? if only they'd written some books or something. and if only we knew of just one culture, somewhere, that has never been christian for a bit of compare and contrast. but I guess we'll never know. pity really.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    yeah Its a weird thing to come out with. Good ole Tom eh!
    Just need a bit of knowledge and imagination to kinda put your mind back to those times..
    Our minds didnt/havent changed that much in 2000yrs, just our circumstances.
    And there is no pivot point where anyone can say that collectively our thought processes are different, or changed after it.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    LOL. Yeah, right....

    Whatever dude.

    Seriously, how can you have an entire TV show on Christianity without anyone seemingly having the faintest idea what all the fuss was all about? Tamaki is an ignorant tosspot, so he wouldn't have the foggiest what the big idea, the "good news" actually was.

    The pre-Christian mind thought the richer you were, the more you could afford to sacrifice to a bunch of capricious Gods, and therefore the more likely you were to enjoy a nice afterlife. Since there was no absolute arbiter of good, the most important concept of what constituted "a good and just life" came from firstly, the importance of the difference the way civilised men lived and their civilisation as proof of their superior virtue - as represented by the Greeks then, more importantly, the Romans - from the barbarians who surrounded them, who were regarded as little more than animals unable to contain their baseness. Secondly, there were the Stoics who had (to quote Wikipeida)

    ...the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of life, and they thought that the best indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said but how that person behaved.

    Here is the clue as to why, for example, Marcus Aurelius could write his Stoical "Meditations" (these days very popular with half-educated new agers) and be regarded as jolly civilised chap by his contemporaries whilst presiding over the pathological savagery of the Roman state and the Roman games, which were at a peak in his reign. He was interested in HIS virtue, not the fate of his gladiators. Or (to go back a bit before Marcus Aurelius) it explains Cicero's obsession with the corrupting power of luxury, with it's threat of reducing civilised men to the base pleasure typical of the barbarian.

    The "Christian revolution" was the new idea that all people, rich or poor, are equal in the eyes of God, and it is by the purity of our soul and the goodness of our actions that we shall be judged in the afterlife. This idea is to us so commonplace as for it to be almost impossible to imagine the world view of a Roman before it had been thought of. But that was the Christian "big idea" and it was in the first and second centuries novel, subversive (a good slave wasn't just the equal of any bad emperor in the eyes of God, he was more likely to be welcomed into heaven! God stood supreme, in judgement of us all! No more sacrifices to the Emperor!) and represents an earthquake event in the intellectual development of mankind.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Amanda Wreckonwith, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Tamaki is an ignorant tosspot, so he wouldn’t have the foggiest what the big idea, the “good news” actually was.

    Are christians always so judgemental or is it only the ones who really know the true faith?

    Since Sep 2012 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    My colleagues Toi and Tipare believed the Tamakis’ work in rescuing people mired in lives of substance abuse and violence didn’t get enough credit.

    I can only hope that there's more to Toi and Tipare's belief than the kind of lazy and condescending complacency expressed here. Tahu Potiki's wealth and privilege stems from the same feudal collusion that creates the conditions that Tamaki exploits.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    In my opinion the self-appointed bishop Tamaki and his wife are parasitic charlatans preying on the vulnerable members of our society. They are snake-oil salesmen out to enrich themselves; the fact that they achieve some modicum of social good for a small number of individuals is
    a) more-or-less an artefact of their methodology and
    b) offset by the overall social ill they also foment (Russell's examples above incl Enough is Enough, homophobia, demonising of immigrants, etc).

    They talk the talk enough to feather their own nests and that's about it. There is nary a hint of the tolerance and compassion that might typify the teachings of Christian scripture.

    I'm not a fan.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Alan Perrott,

    I’m still trying to figure this one out ‘’Imagining the classical mind is so hard precisely because it was a pre-Christian one.’’

    I'm not. It's a sweeping generalization. The "classical mind" is a cliche to stand in place of the millions of individual minds of the time, many of which thought diametrically opposite things, and the "Christian mind" is just the same. The Roman Empire was vast, containing many entirely different races and cultures and there was an even vaster world just around it's periphery, not to mention the entire rest of the world, most of which has never become Christian, and yet somehow has never been completely crippled by the lack the way they would have been had they never invented farming.

    Ideas of equality and monotheism and goodness coming from actions rather than birth and of rewards in the afterlife for good behavior were already ancient in the time of Jesus.

    The way in which Christianity came to take over the splitting and collapsing empire that it was born into is interesting, but there is no necessity for an idea to be generally good for it to be powerful. Otherwise Rome would never have been powerful in its brutal despotism in the first place. Certainly the idea doesn't need a divine origin. It doesn't even need an inspired one. Often it's just the right virus in the right place at the right time. Perhaps if Constantine's mum had not been a Christian, it would have remained as obscure as all the other cults that he released from suppression. It was a strong church because it was organized, rather than because it was good (or not). And then after that, it was influential because it was strong, the religion of the worlds greatest powermongers. Whatever it may have preached, the practice of the next thousand years was hardly enlightened, and it still isn't, for the most part. Of course there are and always have been many individually very good Christians, though. Ditto for non-Christians.

    Perhaps a tradition of thinking of equality and charity and the rewards of the afterlife have left strong marks, but I don't think that they really stand that much in the way of imagining what life must have been like before the dominant religion preached them. We need only look at the world now to see what inequality and a lack of charity and disregard for the rewards of the afterlife are all about. It's a bit weird to think of a life where people pray to many gods rather than the one big guy ...but I could just take a trip to Asia to find billions of people doing it right now. And I find praying to the big guy weird too, really, at least in grown ups. I guess as humans we naturally subjugate ourselves to the powerful, so our imagination of a god is going to be basically what a powerful person is like, someone that might respond to pleas if they like us enough. At times it's probably easier to deal with than the idea that you're talking to the void.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    new idea that all people, rich or poor, are equal in the eyes of God, and it is by the purity of our soul and the goodness of our actions that we shall be judged in the afterlife.

    Better tell that to Steven Joyce or maybe he’s god…
    Sorry but christianity didnt invent this idea.
    Anyway I’m getting sick of this all over again
    So julie christie is still fucking people over. Some thing never change wrong thread hehe

    earthquake event in the intellectual development of mankind.

    Oh please enough with the hyperbole
    When did slavery get abolished? Some 1800 yrs later.
    Well almost, it seems to be making a comeback in some quarters

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I’m not. It’s a sweeping generalization. The “classical mind” is a cliche to stand in place of the millions of individual minds of the time, many of which thought diametrically opposite things, and the “Christian mind” is just the same…

    Dude, this post of yours is largely a manifesto to your ignorance so… just… stop. Please. It hurts.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to andin,

    Anyway I’m getting sick of this all over again

    Yeah it's a pretty half-hearted trolling effort, probably because it's not sincere. He should stick to the Marxism, which has a lot more hooks for personal attacks and snide backhanders at the entire community. It's what he knows best.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

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